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Hundreds of GP practices sign-up for software to prepare for CQC registration

More than 1,000 GP practices have bought software costing hundreds of pounds to prepare for CQC registration next year, in a sign of the widespread apprehension in general practice about signing up to the regulator.

Despite assurances from the CQC and the GPC that it's unnecessary to buy any third-party software, a firm claims to have sold its system to 1,000 practices - a tenth of the UK total.

The company, iQ Medical, said it had received orders for its iQ CQC Management system from 21 practice manager groups, clinical commissioning groups (CCGs), PCTs and hundreds of practices, covering 1,000 practices in total.

The software allows practices to rate how their practice procedures are compliant with CQC requirements and log staff training. The basic toolkit costs £870 per practice, although iQ Medical said due to bulk discounts, the average price paid per GP practice was £648.

Other companies offering compliance software also claim to have sold systems to GPs in advance of the April 2013 registration start date, but have been accused of ‘scaremongering' by the CQC.

Managing director of iQ Medical Graham Poulter, said: ‘It's now only nine months until registration commences, and more and more practice managers are now looking for a solution to the compliance process.'

‘The registration element may have been simplified, but compliance definitely has not, and ideally it will need to be in place by September 2012.'

The GPC has previously warned GPs not to deal with any outside firm offering CQC registration services.

A spokesperson from the CQC warned some companies were ‘scaremongering' and  making ‘misleading' claims on their websites, and warned GPs that commercial compliance systems did not represent ‘value for money.'

Victoria Howes, design team leader with the CQC, said: ‘We haven't confirmed what the questions in the application are going to be yet, so how do they know?'

‘They don't seem to add anything to what you can do for free. I have yet to see one that reflects how we regulate because they don't talk about outcomes.'

‘Practices should be looking at what they already do, rather than paying thousands of pounds for a software package that repackages what they already do.'

Ms Howes confirmed that draft copies of the CQC application form were sent out to 400 practices in the CQC's reference group by email this week for comment. An outline of the process and timetable will be published in February, with a final version of the application due in July.

Dr Philip Fielding, chair of Gloucestershire LMC, said he regretted his practice investing £300 to £400 in third-party software to prepare for CQC registration.

He said: ‘We have been penalised for preparing too far in advance. But clarity about the purpose of the CQC has led to significant confusion for practices.'

‘It shows the disintegration of information from the Department of Health to GPs. It's been a cautionary tale.'

ELAS, which also sells CQC compliance software for GPs, was unable to provide any sales figures, but said its software system had been sold mostly to private GPs, whose regulation starts this year.

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Readers' comments (5)

  • The most expensive Excel spreadsheet you will buy! Don't waste your money on this, it will not get you compliant

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  • This article does raise some very valid concerns, and It would appear that ELAS mainly focusses on Human Resources and Employment Law? - This would not seem to be sufficient to cover all the 28 Outcomes requires by the CQC.

    I have seen a few systems over the last few months, and there are better ones out there, which I think would be a great advantage for CQC Registration and maintaining your ongoing Practice Compliance.
    Has anyone looked at Quality Compliance Systems? - QCS
    I am not a CQC inspector, but they do seem to be a lot better than other ones I have seen.

    Whatever you choose to use, there should be a good balance between patient focussed care and all the paperwork required. Hopefully the CQC will take account of this.

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  • Your best bet before you spend any money is go to everythingcqc.com for free advice on CQC in plain English. Their seminars have been voted the best available and best at show at the Commissioning Show

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  • If you are buying CQC software, best advice is that what you should aim for is something that actually helps you comply on a daily basis, not just a check list that tells you what you should do to get there.
    The only software in the market that is outcomes focused and a risk bases system is eManager by xgenics.com. The company has more than a decade of experience in patient safety and compliance.

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